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Monday, 11 September, 2000, 12:48 GMT 13:48 UK
Last purr for Broadway Cats
Andrew Lloyd Webber
Final curtain: Andrew Lloyd Webber addresses the audience
Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Cats took its final bow on the New York stage on Sunday - after nearly 18 years on Broadway.

An invited audience of friends and fans, some dressed as characters from the show, packed the Winter Garden Theater to see its 7,485th performance, which was interrupted by cheers, screams and several standing ovations.

Lloyd Webber, who wrote the music for Cats, was applauded at the start and finish of the show, and an enormous ovation greeted The Jellicle Ball, a big dance number at the end of the first act, which literally stopped the show.

Trevor Nunn
Trevor Nunn (right) joined the cast on stage
"Tonight is the last night of Cats' first life on Broadway, so I wouldn't get too excited. I don't quite know what the fuss is about," he said.

Lloyd Webber called director Trevor Nunn, producer Cameron Mackintosh and choreographer Gillian Lynne onto the stage to thank them for their part in the show.

"It's possibly difficult for you to realise here, but Cats was already a big hit in advance before we came to New York, but in London it was a huge, huge risk," he said.

"People don't believe this but we opened with quite a lot of our capital missing. The only thing I will say is musical theatre has got to continue to take risks."

As Lloyd Webber and his collaborators left the stage, a shower of confetti filled the theatre.

Pat Vanacore of the Bronx, left, and Joan Harm of Manhattan
Fans dressed up for the occasion
Fans then moved onto a party at Chelsea Piers, an entertainment complex on the Hudson River. But neither Nunn nor Lloyd Webber could attend, having to return to new projects in London.

"There probably never has been such an audience of aficionados, very much like cats indeed," Nunn said.

One fan, New York software salesman Hector Motalvo, counted the final show as his 703rd.

"It started as a curiosity and saw me through some pretty good periods, as well as helping ease pain during bad times," he said.

Cats first opened in New York in 1982, and became a fixture of the Broadway scene.

It is still showing in London, and has been seen by an estimated 50 million people in 30 countries around the world.

See also:

19 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Witches hit the West End
07 Mar 00 | South Asia
Lloyd Webber's Bollywood dream
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